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  • Sep 09, 2015

Field Trip: Istanbul Biennial – “Saltwater”

Saltwater, its life-giving ecology and importance within the human body, waves (of sound as well as populations), knots, neuroscience, European fin-de-siècle intellectual history, the organic motifs of Art Nouveau, esoteric proto-modernist philosophies, and Istanbul’s vanished or submerged minority communities are among the many subjects linked together in the 14th Istanbul Biennial. “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms” was “drafted” by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and is located at venues on the Black Sea, Bosphorus, Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara—the waters that ferried the region’s ancient civilizations and which sustain Turkey’s mega-city of today. A coda to her previous outing, Documenta 13 in 2012, the Istanbul Biennial features many of the curator’s former comrades, as well as new “alliances,” in what is at times a highly condensed and often self-indulgent ride down the curator's stream-of-consciousness. The voyage to see the 30-plus venues—not including the three "imaginary" ones—takes roughly four days, but there are many worthwhile destinations along the way, the best of which were, ironically, those on rooted on some kind of terra firma rather than adrift at sea.

Istanbul Biennial 2015 is open through November 1, 2015. A full review of the event will appear in ArtAsiaPacific Issue no. 96 (November/December). 

HG Masters is editor at large at ArtAsiaPacific.

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